December 30, 2009

Best of: 25 Great Songs of 2009

Here's a list, in no particular order, of 25 songs that rocked my world in 2009. In my humble opinion, all of them are worth a listen.



"dominos" - the big pink
"spiraling down" - bob mould
"don't take me to space (man)" - brakes
"all the pretty girls" - fun.
"heavy cross" - gossip
"atlantic city" - the hold steady
"games for days" - julian plenti
"where did all the love go?" - kasabian
"the fear" - lily allen
"sick muse" - metric
"satellite mind" - metric
"gold guns girls" - metric
"gimme sympathy" - metric
"uprising" - muse
"the fixer" - pearl jam
"ghetto love" - spinnerette
"domino" - spiral beach
"hell" - tegan and sara
"reflection of the television" - the twilight sad
"the conductor" - ume
"pale bride" - the von bondies
"quiet little voices" - we were promised jetpacks
"death" - white lies
"zero" - yeah yeah yeas
"heads will roll" - yeah yeah yeahs



photos from dailymail.co.uk

December 28, 2009

Best of: 30 Great Albums of 2009

In the tradition of music bloggers everywhere, I've put together a series of posts to commemorate the end of 2009 and the end of the 2000-2009 decade. Here's the first list, not ranked in any order - 30 great albums of 2009.



bob mould - life and times
the boxer rebellion - union
arctic monkeys - humbug
biffy clyro - only revolutions
the big pink - a brief history of love
brakes - touchdown
dinosaur jr - farm
doves - kingdom of rust
florence and the machine - lungs
fun. - aim and ignite
gossip - music for men
the hold steady - a positive rage
imogen heap - ellipse
kasabian - west ryder pauper lunatic asylum
maximo park - quicken the heart
metric - fantasies
muse - the resistance
pearl jam - backspacer
phoenix - wolfgang amadeus phoenix
the rifles - great escape
spiral beach - the only really thing
stellastarr* - civilized
telekinesis - telekinesis
them crooked vultures - them crooked vultures
the von bondies - love hate and then there's you
ume - sunshower
we were promised jetpacks - these four walls
the xx - xx
yeah yeah yeahs - it's blitz
you say party we say die - xxxx

photo from yeahyeahyeahs.com

December 18, 2009

Favourites: David Bowie, Up the Hill Backwards

Back when I was a little kid with a budding passion for music, I used to get a lot of music at the local library. I'd flip through the Rock albums, borrowing anything that I'd thought I'd remotely heard of or anything that I thought looked cool. One time I happened upon David Bowie's Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album. It met both criteria since I had heard of David Bowie and the cover sure looked cool.



Then I listened to it.

This album had some very cool music on it. From screaming Japanese lyrics to space age sound effects, all with really cool songs. You're probably familiar with tracks like "Ashes to Ashes", "Fashion" and the title track. One song that's always been a favourite of mine, and that's never been a big radio hit is "Up the Hill Backwards". It's a driving rock song with cool dynamics, great guitar work and an interesting lyric. Still one of my faves many years down the road.



Pic from amazon.ca

December 16, 2009

New Tunes from Still Life Still, Rain Machine, and Muse

C-c-c-cool!

Obviously Still Life Still are pretty cool since they've got Broken Social Scensters Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning introducing them in their video... The tune's called "Pastel". The album's called Girls Come Too. Who knew? You can pick up the album at emusic.


Here's TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone's solo effort Rain Machine with "Give Blood".


A new video from Muse? You bet. Here's "Undisclosed Desires" from The Resistance.

December 14, 2009

New Tunes from The Crystal Method, Fun., Julian Plenti and Deadmau5

Some cool stuff...

Here's The Crystal Method with Emily Haines from Metric with a tune called "Come Back Clean".


And James Merrifield's remix.


Fun. with "All The Pretty Girls". These guys are totally channeling ELO on this tune. Their album Aim and Ignite is on emusic. Fun indeed.


Here's Julian Plenti with the awesome track "Games for Days" from his Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper album. It's on emusic if you're interested. It's been out for a while now, but I just wanted to feature this track. It makes me look forward to the new Interpol album due in 2010. And yes, that's Emily Haines in the video.


And keeping things varied, here's Deadmau5 with "Ghosts n Stuff".

December 11, 2009

Favourites: Stars' Album Set Yourself on Fire

I first heard Stars when 2006's Set Yourself on Fire was released. I love this album front to back. It's a magnificent album with captivating tales, beautiful melodies and sprawling instrumentation.

Here's the video for "Your Ex-Lover is Dead",


"Ageless Beauty",


And "Reunion".

December 9, 2009

Metric Put On Great Show At Massey Hall

I attended Metric's first of two shows at Toronto's Massey Hall on October 20. The Stills opened the show.

Overall, it was a good show. Not fantastic, but good. There are a couple of things that led to this assessment. First, let me be clear that I like Metric a lot. From the first time I heard tunes like "Combat Baby" I was hooked. It's been great to watch the band gain more and more popularity.


The first thing that led to the not-so-great impression of the show was the seats. I got "Front of the Line" seats from American Express. Well, I may have been at the front of the line, but I certainly wasn't front row. The seats were three rows from the back of the house, in the second balcony. The only good thing you could say about these seats would be that they were head-on to the stage. The other thing about Massey Hall seats is that they are tiny. I'm not a big guy, but I felt completely wedged into my seat. I was so happy that two seats next to my friend and I were empty so we could spread out from our neighbours a bit.

Then there was the show.

The Stills strike me as a good band. I liked the "Still in Love Song" from the first time I heard it and picked up their first album, 2003's Logic Will Break Your Heart. "Lola Stars and Stripes" was pretty good too. The rest of the album never really managed to make an impression on me. Same with their second album, Oceans Will Rise. They didn't win me over with their fairly bland live show. The songs all seem to blend into each other and nothing about them really stands out.

Metric put on a much more impressive show. Their stage presence was what you would expect from a band as experienced as Metric. They seem to be growing into the larger venues quite nicely. I will say that there seemed to be something more "rehearsed" about their show as compared to many of the other bands I saw over October. Certainly this is somewhat due to the larger venue, but it felt like Emily was likely doing the same moves during the same songs every night.

Song highlights for me were "Dead Disco" and the cool acoustic, sing-along final encore tune of "Combat Baby" from Old World Underground, Where Are You Now. Tunes from Fantasies such as "Help, I'm Alive", "Satellite Mind", "Gimme Sympathy" and "Sick Muse" as well as "Poster of a Girl", "Empty" and "Monster Hospital" from Live It Out were highlights, too. "Stadium Love" kind of fell flat for me since it seemed like Emily was trying a bit too hard to sell Massey Hall as a "Stadium", which it certainly isn't.

Overall, a really good show that was hampered by lousy seating and an opening act that didn't warm up this audience member.

Here's a video by someone with much better seats than me at the same show. Wow, I've really got to work on this whole "bitter" thing, don't I?



Emusic has albums from both Metric and The Stills, although they don't have The Stills' first album, which I swear I originally bought from emusic.

Photo from cbc.ca.

December 7, 2009

New Album from Tegan and Sara, Sainthood, Out Now


Tegan and Sara have taken their time growing on me. There have been some hits, like "Back in Your Head" from The Con, and "Walking With A Ghost" and "Speak Slow" from So Jealous. And some misses. Their new album Sainthood came out a few weeks ago and the first single "Hell" has a video. Here they are performing the song on Conan. Tight performance.



Their previous album, The Con, is available on emusic, but their new one isn't. Did they switch to a major or are they still on an indie that wants to grab as many sales as possible from iTunes first?

A few more tunes from the new album are up for streaming at their myspace.

Photo from teganandsara.com.

December 4, 2009

Favourites: R.E.M.'s Pretty Persuasion

I have fond and long-ago memories of "Pretty Persuasion" from REM's Reckoning album. I believe I first heard it on Q107 in Toronto. A very early and very different Q107 from what it is today. Back then, Q107 played more modern rock and CHUM-FM played hard rock. Now CHUM-FM has an easy listening format and Q107 plays classic rock.

Back to the song... It's a wonderful pop gem, with an easy going beat, nice strummy guitars and soaring vocals and harmonies. Never mind the fact that you can't understand half of the lyrics. Hearing bands like REM and U2 in the early 80s blended with the hair metal I was listening to since I discovered KISS morphed together and made me the music fan I am today. Not too much of a stretch to see how I ended up being a fan of bands like Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr., etc.... All in all, if a song has passion and drive with a unique view of the pop song, I have a chance of liking it.

Join with me in flashing back to 1984 with a long favourite, REM's Pretty Persuasion.

December 3, 2009

New Tunes from Ume, Fake Problems, Said the Whale and Raveonettes

Here are few tunes that have made my ears happy recently...



Ume is a hard rockin' trio with a cute-as-can-be guitarist/singer. Here's the video for "The Conductor" from their Sunshower EP which is up at emusic.


Fake Problems with "Diamond Rings" from the It's Great to be Alive album. Fake Problems' music can be found on emusic.


Said the Whale's latest album Islands Disappear came out a few weeks back. Here's the song "Camilo (The Magician)". You can find Said the Whale's music at emusic.


Here's The Raveonettes' new single "Last Dance" from their new album In And Out Of Control, which is available from emusic.

November 30, 2009

The Bravery's New Album out December 1st

The Bravery have a new album coming out on December 1st. It's called Stir the Blood and here's the video for the first single, "Slow Poison". You can also check out some tunes from the new album at their myspace.


Slow Poison

The Bravery | MySpace Music Videos


While their second album The Sun and The Moon didn't really grab me, I did enjoy several tracks from their first, self-titled album including the great retro single "An Honest Mistake". This new tune sounds good and I'm looking forward to hearing the whole new album.

I wanted to post the video for "An Honest Mistake" too, but The Bravery's record company obviously doesn't want peon's like me promoting their bands for free. The video isn't available on myspace video from Canada and the video on youtube won't allow embedding. I guess Universal Music Group is intent on being another dinosaur record company that deserves to die.

Enjoy The Bravery through whatever means your conscience tells you to!

November 18, 2009

Fat Cat artists The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Brakes Shine Under the Neon Palms at the Good Old El Mocambo

Fat Cat Records’ tour hit Toronto’s El Mocambo on Saturday October 10th and I was lucky enough to be there. The El Mocambo’s changed quite a bit since I played there more than 10 years ago. It looks good, and sounds good, although I personally found their sound system pushing way too much bass.

Brakes, or BrakesBrakesBrakes as they are known in the US, hit the stage first. For some reason I thought that We Were Promised Jetpacks were going to be the first band on, so while I got over my feeling that I may have missed We Were Promised Jetpacks, I got on to enjoying Brakes.

There are a couple of common elements to both Brakes and Jetpacks, so I’ll mention them up front. Both bands are tight and energetic live performers, and both bands seemed pleased as punch that people on this side of the Atlantic had heard of them, had heard their music, and had come out to see them. Brakes’ singer remarked at one point that this was the best show that they had played. The audience was attentive and enthusiastic in response to all three bands. So much for the stereotype that Toronto audiences are reserved and hard on newcomers.


Brakes played a tight set that covered all their albums – Touchdown, The Beatific Visions, and Give Blood. All are available on emusic if you’re interested, although Touchdown and their live album Rock Is Dodelijk are listed under BrakesBrakesBrakes and The Beatific Visions and Give Blood are listed under Brakes.

Highlights of the Brakes set included "Don't Take Me To Space (Man)", "Spring Chicken" and "Hey Hey". They even through in a couple of covers – of Camper van Beethoven and Johnny Cash. They played a good mix of up-beat songs and more mellow tunes, including a solo acoustic number to fill time while the electric guitar player changed a string.

Here's the video for "Don't Take Me To Space (Man)". Great song.




We Were Promised Jetpacks were up next. I gather from the increase in the number of folks right in front of the stage, these lads are better known around here than Brakes. Singer Adam Thompson has quite the powerful voice, which he demonstrated through his seeming desire to sing loud enough to be heard above the band without the need for his microphone. They hit the highlights from their album These Four Walls, which is on emusic and includes the great single "Quiet Little Voices".

Here's a video of them doing "Quiet Little Voices" from the Elmo show.



The Twilight Sad were the headliners. They thanked everyone for coming, mentioning that they’d been through town with Mogwai some months ago, and thanked their two very impressive openers and began a near-relentless pummeling of the audience’s eardrums. I had mentioned previously that I thought that this band would really shine live. They are a good live band, and I think I have more appreciation for them than I did when I walked in. On the other hand, their singer seems to like to engage the left side of the stage more than the audience, and their overall lack of dynamics becomes a bit like being hit in the head with a rubber mallet for an hour.


Songs from their latest album and a few that I knew from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters shone through the wall of noise. Overall, I’m glad I saw them, but will rush out to see Brakes and We Were Promised Jetpacks well before I’ll go out of my way to see another Twilight Sad show. In short, for a band that I thought would win me over with their live show, I enjoy them more on album.

Here are a few videos. First up is "Reflection Of The Television" which opens the new album Forget the Night Ahead and opened their show.



Then we have "I Became A Prostitute", Also from Forget the Night Ahead.



And after that, check out the acoustic version of the same song. This one is from Laundro Matinee and shows off what a great song this is. You can always tell if a song is truly great by stripping it down to acoustic guitar and vocals.



And here's "That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy" from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters.



Frank over at Chromewaves has a review and some great photos from the gig.

Photos in the post are mine.

November 15, 2009

Ron Hawkins Playing a Full-Band Show this Week


On Friday I received the following email from Ron Hawkins:

"Hey Folks,
Well, here it is... again.
The release of 10 Kinds of Lonely!
Only this time it's with the whole band.

Thursday, November 19, 2009.
That night, my band will feature Jason Tait (drums), Dylan Parker (Bass), Alex McMaster (cello, vocals) and Bob Wiseman (piano, organ and accordion).

Come on down and enjoy two sets -

The first a smattering of back catalogue songs from Shakespeare... My Butt, Crackstatic, Greasing The Star Machine, Sordid Fiction and Chemical Sounds.
The second, 10 Kinds of Lonely presented in sequence and in it's entirety.

Openers the Benvereens will start things off around 10:15.

Tickets available at http://www.ronhawkins.com and http://www.victimlesscapitalism.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Dakota Tavern,
249 Ossington Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario.

AGE: 19+
DOORS: 9 pm"

Time to go order my tickets!

Photo from ronhawkins.com

November 9, 2009

A few new tunes from Spiral Beach, Hockey, Rubik and Pinup Saints

Here are a few tunes that hit my ears the right way recently.

Spiral Beach's tune called "Kind of Beast" from their previous album Ball


Hockey, with "Song Away" from their appearance on Jools Holland. The album's called Mind Chaos.


Rubik with "Wasteland" from their emusic-availble album Dada Bandits


Pinup Saints (myspace) with "Mister". Their album Golden is available on emusic.

November 2, 2009

Built to Spill Jam Lee’s Palace

See what I did there? There was a big crowd out to see Built to Spill at Lee’s Palace on October 7 hence they jammed Lee’s Palace and Built to Spill love to jam and they certainly did a lot of jamming at their show. Ha ha ha. Corny.

This was my first time seeing Built to Spill. I managed to completely miss them during the 90’s and only really knew You In Reverse going into the show. This is one of those bands that I guessed I would truly appreciate once I’d seen them live. This guess turned out to be true and I’m glad I dragged myself out on a Wednesday night to see these guys perform.

Here's the band's video for "Conventional Wisdom". It's from You In Reverse and has one wicked guitar hook. Love it.




Disco Doom
opened the show. While my friends and I missed most of their set, their last two songs sounded good. I’ll be seeking out more of their stuff in future. Check out their myspace for some songs.

When Built to Spill took the stage, my friends and I thought that a final sound check was being performed. The singer/guitarist and drummer took to the stage first and over the next number of minutes, a magnificent jam ensued, with band members joining the beautiful noise.

The guys in Built to Spill take a different approach to stage presence than many bands. They take a few minutes between each song to tune and converse amongst themselves. At one point, a guitarist approached the mic and said, "Hey". Other than an occasional "thank you" that was about it for stage patter. Until the singer invited everyone to join him at a DJ gig at Sneaky Dee’s after the Built to Spill show. Being a work night, I didn’t take him up on his offer, but would be interested to hear what his DJ gig was like.

Frank over at Chromewaves has his take and some great pictures of this gig.

October 19, 2009

Bob Mould Highlights the New and the Old at The Mod Club in Toronto

Monday, October 5 marked the third time that I’ve seen Bob Mould live. I saw Sugar at the Concert Hall in the early 90’s and I saw the Bob Mould Band on their last stop at The Mod Club in 2008 supporting the excellent District Line album. After blasting through Hüsker Dü's "Something I Learned Today" from Zen Arcade and the always incredible Sugar tune "A Good Idea", Bob mentioned that this year has kept him busy with things other than touring. He mentioned that they had played Coachella, then arrived in Toronto the day before The Mod Club show, had a rehearsal, and now they were playing for us.

Not that they sounded unrehearsed. The trio (this year they weren’t touring with Bob’s Blowoff partner and keyboard player Richard Morel) were tight and energetic, playing through the now fairly standard mix of Hüsker Dü, Sugar and Bob Mould solo material. This show was different than last year in that Bob pulled out the acoustic guitar for a few songs.

Highlights were Sugar classics "Your Favorite Thing" and "Hoover Dam", Hüsker Dü classics like "I Apologize" and "Celebrated Summer" (Bob, how come you never play my personal favourite "Could You Be the One?"?) and some highlights from his new one Life and Times, including "Life and Times", "I’m Sorry Baby, but You Can’t Stand in My Light Anymore" and "Argos". In my humble opinion, "Spiraling Down" is an awesome new song and would have been an excellent addition to the set.


Overall, another great performance from Bob Mould and his rhythm section. Next up for Bob will be the release of his autobiography. I will certainly be picking it up to get a greater insight into this great songwriter who has influenced so many artists, myself included.

Here's a bootleg video from Bob's show at Irving Plaza on October 8. It's of the last two songs of the proper set "Celebrated Summer" and "In a Free Land" originally from Hüsker Dü.



I took the photos with my Blackberry. Maybe part of the appeal this blog can be the horrible live shots that I take.

October 4, 2009

Big Concert Week - Bob Mould, Built to Spill, The Twilight Sad, brakesbrakesbrakes, and We Were Promised Jetpacks



As they say, when it rains, it pours.

This week I have three, count 'em, three concert nights out that should give my earplugs a good workout.

The first comes tomorrow with one of my greatest influences musically - from his solo work, to Sugar and back to Husker Du - Bob Mould at The Mod Club.

Then, on Wednesday night, I'm off to see Built To Spill's second Toronto show at Lee's Palace.

Finally, on Saturday night, I'm off to a show that I've debated whether I could attend or not - a great triple bill of The Twilight Sad, brakesbrakesbrakes, and We Were Promised Jetpacks at the Elmo.

What a week it will be, and sooner or later I'll write about each one.

Stay tuned!

September 28, 2009

Late to the Party



I'm often late to the party, so to speak, when it comes to new music. Like many people, it can take me some time to get into new music. It can take some time for new music to grow on me. When I first heard Oasis, I frankly didn't think much of them. I was, admittedly, a recovering metal-head and BritPop was not exactly the music that sounded too familiar at first blush. When it did, it sounded a bit too much like The Beatles for my taste.

Do you remember that scene in Pulp Fiction when Uma Thurman's character and John Travolta's character are sitting outside of Jack Rabbit Slims? Uma describes how everyone is either a Beatles man or an Elvis man? I disagree with this. I think that everyone is either Beatles or Rolling Stones. I think that those two bands are much more comparable and are much more contemporaries than the Beatles and Elvis. I've always ended up on the Rolling Stones side of the equation, which explains my reaction to the Beatles-tinged rock of Oasis.

But that was then. A couple of years after What's the Story Morning Glory and Definitely Maybe were released, I found my appreciation for Oasis. About 5 years ago, I had one of my most enjoyable moments on stage playing lead guitar on the track "Morning Glory".

This scenario repeats itself for many other bands. Either I manage to miss their emergence completely or I take a listen, am not really grabbed by what I hear, only to discover months or years later that I really like the band.

Although I'm late to several parties, I'm not usually last to the party. Mention of many of the bands that I've been listing to for quite a while now still elicits blank stares from many friends and acquaintances, even from those who try to keep their ear to the ground for new music.

What does this mean for this blog? Well, it means that there will be many times when I cover an artist that is new to me that may not be new to others. I don't profess to be first to the party, but I hope I'm not last too many times.

September 25, 2009

Boy Kill Boy - Great Band that's No More




Boy Kill Boy seemed to have got a lot going for them, in my books, which is why I’m baffled that they didn’t make a greater impact. They are a straight-ahead guitar rock band with tons of energy and great catchy songwriting. Their first album, Civilian, is pretty much back-to-back awesome songs. "Suzie" tops the list. As far as I can tell, their latest release, The Sun and the Sea, was never released on this side of the pond, as they say.

Sadly, the band broke up in October of last year. At least we got a couple of great albums out of them.

Here's the video for "Suzie":


And the video for "Shoot Me Down"


Video for "Back Again"


And the video for "No Conversation" from the second album


Enjoy!

September 22, 2009

New Built to Spill Songs, Indie-Rock Nuptuals and New Releases

As I posted previously, Built to Spill has a new album coming out and is coming through Toronto on their tour. The release date is October 6, which doesn't give me a whole lot of time to familiarize myself with it before their date at Lee's Palace that I'm attending on the 7th. Stereogum is featuring two tracks from the new album There is No Enemy. The songs are called "Things Fall Apart" and "Hindsight". I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those bands that absolutely shines in a live setting.



Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie and Zooey Deschanel (pictured) of movies and She and Him got married this past weekend. Good for them. And any excuse to look at Zooey Deschanel pictures is good with me.

Spiral Beach's new album The Only Really Thing is out. The album is streaming on their site. Listening to it now and it sounds goooooood. ExploreMusic has got some free songs, too. I've got to see these guys live.

Here's the video for "Made of Stone" from Ball.


And the video for "Domino" from The Only Real Thing.


As I posted previously, The Twilight Sad is on tour and has a new album called Forget the Night Ahead. It's due out today in North America and on October 5 everywhere else. You can listen to the album courtesy of Fat Cat Records. Another band that I suspect would have to be seen to be fully appreciated. I'm still toying with attending their October 10 show at the Elmo.

Here's a new track called "I Became A Prostitute" from the new album.

F*cked Up Win Polaris Prize

And the winner is.....

F*cked Up



The hardcore band has won the prestigious Polaris Prize, much like the Mercury Prize for Brits, but this one for Canadians, for their album The Chemistry of Common Life.

Congrats!

September 21, 2009

Free Metric Song!


I recently found an email from Metric in my inbox offering a free MP3. Well, I like free just as much as the next guy, so I headed over to HypeMachine and traded my email address for the tune.

My First iTunes LP: Muse's The Resistance



Well, I've purchased my first iTunes LP. It's the latest release from Muse, The Resistance.

What do I think of it? I think it's pretty cool. A lot of my friends like buying physical CD's over digital because of the booklet - they want to have something tangible in their hands to look at and read lyrics. iTunes has been offering digital booklets on some albums, but this is definitely a step up.

I compare it to a DVD menu. When you open the iTunes LP, a nice screen appears (shown above) and some music plays. There are links to listen to the album, view the song list, read the lyrics, view videos and view pictures. For The Resistance, you can listen to the album, view the song list, which contains descriptions of the inspiration for each song, view photos, videos and credits. There are no lyrics with The Resistance.

Overall, it's a cool experience, but I wouldn't pay extra for it.

And how about the new Muse album? It's pure Muse, but they are stepping up their game from album to album. There are some really good rockin' tunes, like "Uprising", "Resistance" and "Unnatural Selection". The more symphonic tunes, like "United States of Eurasia / Collateral Damage (Excerpt from Nocturne in E-Flat, Op. 9 No. 2)" and the three-part "Exogenesis: Symphony" will take some time to grow on me.

Here's a video for "Uprising" from the new Muse album for your viewing and listening pleasure.


And if you're interested in seeing the band live - I saw them on their last trip through Toronto and they were absolutely fantastic live - then look for dates on their web site. Their first string of dates has Biffy Clyro and The Big Pink supporting.

September 14, 2009

I Knew Music Was Good For You!

According to a study referenced in this article at CNET, music lowers blood pressure, among other health benefits. So crank up some tunes and get healthy!

September 12, 2009

Scarlett Johannson & Pete Yorn, Minus the Bear and more Cool Stuff


Spin has got Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn performing Relator. As I posted previously, I rather like this tune and I'm looking forward to hearing more of their songs. The album is called Break Up, it's scheduled for release on September 15, and it's available for pre-order on iTunes.  I've got to pick up some Wayfarers.

Details on Minus the Bear's new album are available from Brooklyn Vegan. Here's "Knights" from Planet of Ice. If you like their stuff, it's available on emusic.



Also posted on Brooklyn Vegan is a peppy new song from Land of Talk. It's called "You May Never" and it's from their forthcoming EP Fun and Laughter. Their past releases are on emusic. Exclaim's got some news on the EP as well including the October 13 release date.

Stereogum shows off the new video from Sondre Lerche called "Heartbeat Radio". I love the counterpoint of the happy-sounding melody against the lyrical content. It's from his new album, also called Heartbeat Radio, which is out now and available through iTunes. Sondre's performing at The Mod Club next week on the 16th.

September 11, 2009

One Fun Song - Bright Red Chords by Loomis and the Lust

I was checking out the past few weeks' episodes of Wedge on my PVR when this gem caught my ear. From their EP Nagasha, which is available on emusic, it's Loomis and the Lust with a groovy, catchy, funky, fun, retro-sounding song called "Bright Red Chords". The rest of the EP sounds promising too.

Here's "Bright Red Chords"


And another tune called "Break on Love"

September 8, 2009

Speech Debelle Wins Mercury Prize

Well, I have to admit I know nothing about Speech Debelle, but her album Speech Therapy just won the Mercury Prize. Congratulations!

If you're interested in checking her out, here's a video.

Mercury Prize to be Awarded Tonight!

I posted before about the Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominees. Well, if you follow such things, tonight is the night. The prestigious Mercury Prize will be awarded tonight.

Who do you think will win?

September 1, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures, Polaris Prize, new James Song, Pearl Jam and more cool stuff

I had seen the band name The Big Pink floating around the Interwebs recently, but hadn't heard any of their music. I saw a post over at Artrocker that echoed my feelings about the name and its origin with The Band. Artrocker posted this video and I think it has a great sound and a great hook. Go to The Big Pink's site and they'll trade your email address for an MP3 of "Dominos". The album, A Brief History of Love, is due out September 15. Emusic has some singles, so I'm hoping they'll get the full album.



Spinner has the ten Polaris Prize nominated albums available for streaming until the prize is won on September 21. Go check it out.

James has recently put up a free mp3 on their site. It's for a song called "Not So Strong" and they say it's semi-legendary. "Not So Strong was first performed during a low-key gig at Hoxton’s Bar and Kitchen in June 2007, and became a regular feature on the setlist throughout the rest of the year. It quickly established itself as a fan favourite, and many of you expressed shock and disappointment when it did not appear on Hey Ma." Great song.

If you're interested in the history of Canadian music, you may be interested in two new documentaries from the CBC. By the time of this post, you've missed the first airing of the first episode, but it looks like there are repeat airings on CBC Newsworld.

I've been enjoying the new single, "The Fixer" from Pearl Jam. They have another new one called "Supersonic". I kind of lost track of Pearl Jam around the time of No Code but it looks like I'm catching up with them again. Backspacer is out September 20. If you pre-order the album from iTunes, you get "The Fixer" right away.



Well, everyone's been freaking out about Them Crooked Vultures (pictured above). They are the newest supergroup comprised of Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, and based on the videos linked below, a couple of other guys. Youtube has bits of a couple of songs from the official TCV channel. There's one called "Elephants" and a short and long version of "No One Loves Me and Neither Do I". Stereogum has live videos in features 1, 2, and 3. After listening, I can hear what the fuss is about. They rock hard. They also played with Arctic Monkeys. Spinner's got the scoop on that show.

Think it's too early in the year for lists? Never. Pitchfork has a feature "P2K: The Decade In Music". Highlights include the "Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s" and the "Top 50 Music Videos of the 2000s".  Stereogum's got some good analysis.

And R.E.M. has a great sounding live version of Accelerate's "Living Well's the Best Revenge". More info on the coming live album on remdublin.com.

Living Well Is The Best Revenge


Photo from themcrookedvultures.com/

August 31, 2009

Emerging: An Horse



An Horse, is an Australian band that I became aware of in the past several months. I think it was a blog post over at Chromewaves that first mentioned the band to me.

The first song I heard was the first single, "Camp Out". There's video of it being performed on Letterman. Based on the strength of that track and the samples on iTunes, I picked up the album.

Here's the official "Camp Out" video. Great song.


Overall, the album is very strong. The simple instrumentation and strong vocals really make the songwriting shine through. Their latest single is "Postcards".

An Horse are in Toronto opening for Cage the Elephant and Silversun Pickups on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at Sound Academy.  Tour dates at the bands' sites.

Here' the video for Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked"



Lots of Silversun Pickups videos on their video page. If you're new to these guys, I'd recommend starting with "Lazy Eye" from Carnarvas and "Panic Switch" from their new one, Swoon.

August 29, 2009

Origins: Bob Mould



In previous Origins posts, I've written about Husker Du and Sugar. Now it's time to address Bob Mould. What can I say about Bob Mould? He's been an amazing influence on my songwriting and guitar playing. His music, from Husker Du to Sugar to his solo material has been inspirational and consistently enjoyable. He's grown into a person who seems comfortable in his own skin, very down-to-earth, and genuinely happy. He's had his share of rough spots as well, drug and alcohol dependency, and he blames himself for Husker Du's manager's suicide.

After Husker Du broke up, Bob Mould started putting out solo material. It has been great to watch the progression in his career as he moved through classic confessional songcraft, to dance music and back again to alternative rock. [Aside: I'll confess my discomfort with genre tags like alternative and indie, but often fall back on using them to describe certain styles, time periods and esthetics.] Bob is also working on an autobiography which I will be picking up as soon as it is released.

Here's a video for "See A Little Light" from Bob's first solo album Workbook. Bob has said that he considers his latest, Life and Times, as being a return to the style of songwriting on Workbook, twenty years later.



Here's a video of Bob performing "I'm Sorry, Baby, But You Can't Stand In My Light Any More" from Life and Times.



Bob has announced tour dates and will be hitting Toronto's Mod Club on October 5. I saw their show there for The District Line tour and it was amazing to see Bob in such great form, playing songs from across his career. The Mod Club is one of my favourite venues for live music in Toronto and I'm very much looking forward to the October show. Other tour dates are at www.bobmould.com

August 28, 2009

The Cribs New Single "Cheat On Me" Out Now

I mentioned before that The Cribs have a new album coming out. The first single from Ignore the Ignorant, "Cheat on Me", is available on iTunes. The album's out September 8 and is available in a regular and a deluxe version. The deluxe version comes with 12 songs recorded at The Ritz.

August 20, 2009

New Young Galaxy On It's Way!

Young Galaxy have a new album on the way. It's called Invisible Republic and it's out August 25. There's a free mp3 link for the song "Long Live The Fallen World" on their home page and you can check out some songs on their myspace.

Exclaim has an article where the band talks about their split from label Arts & Crafts.

They've announced their album release shows via their myspace blog:
Sept 9th, Zaphod Beeblebrox Ottawa, Ont. Canada
Sept 10th, The Drake Hotel Toronto, Ont, Canada
Sept 11th, Il Motore Montreal, Que. Canada

Also via their myspace blog, they've announce that there are 4 new songs on MTV Canada's web site. They sound good to me.

Here's the video for my favourite song from their eponymous release, available on emusic.

August 19, 2009

The Cribs' New Album Has A Release Date

The more I listen to The Cribs, the more I like them. As they progress through their career, the more I like them. I like each album more than the last. I hope this continues with their new album Ignore the Ignorant which comes out September 8 in the UK and November 10 in North America. Brooklyn Vegan has the scoop and mentions that the digital version comes out the same date as the UK release. Probably smart as you know the album would be available worldwide via torrent.

There's a free mp3 for the song "We Were Aborted" as well. Good loud guitars off the top. Gotta like it. A good fast song. Sounds like The Cribs, alright. Then there's a half-tempo break-down part for the first chorus. Nice.

If you're not familiar with their older stuff, here's "Men's Needs" from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever



And here's "Our Bovine Public", also from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever



Also of note is that something I've noticed anecdotally is actually official. I thought that more bands on myspace (who just purchased iLike) were getting wise to the fact that I might not want their song to auto-play when I arrive on their page. I might already be listening to something else. Well, according to Hypebot, it's a conscious decision. Even though it seems to be selfishly motivated by a desire to claw back on bandwidth, I'm happy about it because it improves my user experience.

And while I floated over to myspace, I saw that Lights has a new video premiering. It's for a song called "Saviour" and while it's not the kind of music I usually gravitate to, I do have a weakness for a good, cutesy pop song. This fits the bill.

"Saviour" Music Video

August 18, 2009

Imogen Heap, Radiohead, The Junction, Built to Spill and Other Cool Stuff!

Spinner has the premiere of Imogen Heap's video for the track "First Train Home" from her new album Ellipse. I've really enjoyed Imogen's earlier albums and I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with Ellipse when it comes out August 25th.



Stereogum's got a pack of recent news:
  • There's a new song out from Do Make Say Think. It's 10 minutes long and sounds cool to me. I'll have to check out more from this band. They're playing tomorrow night at the Polish Combatants Hall. Other tour dates are in the article.
  • Built to Spill has a new album coming out. It's called There is no Enemy and it's coming out in October. I'm heading to the show on October 7th at Lee's Palace. It's not listed among the tour dates on Stereogum, but it is listed on the band's site.
  • Radiohead have a new song out, but the rumours are still unconfirmed as to whether there's a new EP called Wall of Ice on its way. The torrent is spinning.
The New Rockstar Philosophy has a funny article about the recent trend of the major labels and iTunes trying to get music fans interested in buying albums again. I still prefer to buy albums over singles, but maybe that has more to do with the fact that I don't buy a lot of Top 40 music.

I saw an article on Dead Sexy about a band called The Vicious Guns. I like the songs on their myspace and will be watching for a release. I couldn't find anything on emusic or iTunes.

The New Music, former television show and current blog, posts some new music in the form of First Spins. However, they don't seem to keep them up for long. A couple that I wanted to check back later to give a listen are for Sean Bones and The Junction. Both are available on emusic. I like 'em.

August 16, 2009

Editors New Release, In This Light And On This Evening, On Its Way


Ever since I heard "Munich" from the 2005 release The Back Room, I've been hooked on Editors. It's solid British rock with a dark edge. Tom Smith's deep voice and delivery inevitably lead to initial comparisons to Joy Division, but once you get to deeper listening, Editors' individuality emerges. Their second album, An End Has A Start, was released in 2007. This album upped their game considerably, with singles like "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors", "An End Has A Start" and "The Racing Rats".

Originally I had heard that the new album, In This Light And On This Evening, was to be released on September 21. Amazon UK has the release date posted at October 12. I think this latter date is more likely to be correct since the Editors home page has a countdown to some 56 days from the time of this writing. With several concerts to attend and new releases I'm looking forward to, it looks like October will be a busy musical month.

A while back, Chromewaves posted that “Editors’ Tom Smith keeps up the sci-fi soundtrack talking points in discussing their new record". Based on this and some other articles I've seen around the web, I think we're in for a very different sounding album from Editors. Somehow, I'm still confident it will be great.

European tour dates have been announced. Looks like we'll be waiting for winter, or I'd guess more likely spring before we see Editors touring North America. That actually gives plenty of time to become intimate with the album and ready for the concert experience.

Editors, or their record company, don't want me to embed videos, so here are links to "Munich" and "Blood" from The Back Room plus "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors", "An End Has A Start" and "The Racing Rats" from An End Has A Start. Or you can go straight to their video page and watch even more!

Photo from www.editorsus.com

August 14, 2009

Video Released for Arctic Monkey's "Crying Lightning"

As I posted previously, Arctic Monkeys have a new album called Humbug coming out August 25. The first single is "Crying Lightning" and they've released a video for it.

There was also a track called "My Propeller" out there but it seems to have been taken down. If you're really interested in previewing the new tracks, there are several live versions floating around the 'net, including on youtube.

August 13, 2009

Scarlett, Spinnerette, Stereophonics and Other Cool Stuff!

I read a number of RSS feeds on my Blackberry on my way to work every day. I save the one's I want to follow up on, either because they have some content I want to see or hear that doesn't come through on the Blackberry, or the feed is truncated and I want to read the rest of the article (I actively dislike it when feeds are truncated). Here are a few of the articles or posts I found interesting over the last while.

Scarlett Johansson is singing again. While the few songs I heard from her Tom Waits cover album didn't grab me, this new song with Scarlett and Pete Yorn sounds quite good. Spin has posted the video and has a brief article here.



Stereophonics are coming out with a new album called Keep Calm and Carry On. I've never been super into them, but I seem to have a lot of their music in my collection. I think that if I just spent some more time with their albums, they could really become a favourite. Guardian has an article on their pending release and about Ronseal records in general. Ronseal records are those albums that let the listener what they are via the album title.

NPR.org has a cool article on the Posies and how bands make money these days. Interesting that they never pocketed any money from their major-label albums. It's no wonder that the record business is in the tank and the music business seems to be going strong. When will those record company's realize that they are dinosaurs and that they're extinct?

Julian Plenti, also known as Paul Banks from Interpol, has released an album called Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper. I really like Interpol and after giving this album a spin, I give it a thumbs up. It is available from emusic.

Spinnerette were on Letterman, sounding decidedly less keyboardy and poppy than they do on their latest, self-titled album.

More to come!